Piracy Endangers Economic Recovery but Outlook Remains Grim

Posted on 12/24/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Government officials, law enforcement and business leaders attending the Fifth Global Congress on Counterfeiting and Piracy earlier this month cautioned that the world needs to step up actions against counterfeiting and piracy to help boost global economic recovery. However, the lack of appropriate legislative structures and the general public’s attitude make reversing the skyrocketing digital piracy trend highly doubtful, and not only in the very short term.

Global Congress organizers say that economic losses from counterfeiting and piracy are costing the economies of the G20 countries more than $143 billion per year and putting 2.5 million legitimate jobs at risk. Figures presented at an April U.S. Congressional hearing that followed online distribution of pirated versions of the newly released “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” were similarly staggering: $20 billion in copyrighted movies, music and other entertainment is being lost to global piracy networks.

Closer to the picture industry, image-tracking company PicScout maintains that 90% of online image uses violate copyright. Though nobody has put out a financial estimate of what digital piracy is costing the global stock licensing industry, everyone agrees that this number is rather high.

Developed economies are still in the infancy of Internet law. This year, the pervasive problem of online piracy in the countries of China, Russia, Canada, Spain and Mexico got a lot of media and legislative attention—but the state of affairs is not much better elsewhere, including Stateside. Though the U.S. music industry has managed to litigate a couple of precedent-setting cases, most online piracy and copyright infringements go unnoticed and unpunished. In the stock industry, larger agencies may pursue and even win infringement cases but often admit that attempts to collect court-awarded damages do not bear fruit.

During workshops and seminars, stock industry insiders often discuss the subject of copyright education, believing that if only people knew they were breaking the law, they would stop. This myth has now been dispelled by multiple sources. An International Chamber of Commerce report released during the Global Congress on Counterfeiting and Piracy showed that 80% of consumers admit they regularly buy fake or pirated products, with little remorse or concern about the consequences of those purchases. A recent U.K. survey showed that many creatives feel similarly little remorse for illegally swiping photos off the Internet.

In other words, people know what they are doing. They just don’t care. And because they don’t care, online piracy will continue skyrocketing until content becomes more technologically difficult or legally perilous to steal.


Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

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